The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Central Operations has partnered with two South Australian Aboriginal artists to launch a major artwork and uniform piece inspired by the remote communities it serves.
Mother-daughter artist duo Kelly Taylor and T’keyah Ware unveiled their commissioned work today (8 November) at a special event to launch the Flying Doctor’s NAIDOC Week celebrations.
The original painting will be hung at the RFDS Adelaide Base, with full-size prints displayed at all RFDS bases across SA/NT including Port Augusta, Alice Springs and Darwin, as well as its Remote Area Nurse clinics at Andamooka, Marla and Marree.
The artwork’s motif has also been reproduced onto a polo shirt to be worn by all RFDS Central Operations staff, including clinicians, pilots, engineers and support staff.
SA Premier Steven Marshall, who attended today’s launch congratulated mother-daughter artist duo Kelly Taylor and T’keyah Ware on their design and the whole RFDS team on such a fantastic project.
“As artists – and as past users of the RFDS service, Kelly and T’keyah have depicted beautifully the story of the Flying Doctor in remote communities and I congratulate them both on their magnificent design.
“The design will be a point of pride for Flying Doctor clinicians, pilots and support staff as they work in communities, providing valuable medical services to their patients, and their families.”
RFDS Central Operations Primary Health Care Manager Mandy Smallacombe says the Aboriginal uniform project is an important step towards deepening health clinicians’ understanding about diverse and culturally-sensitive patient care.
“I am really excited to have a visual commitment of our pledge to cultural safety,” Mandy says.
“I know our new shirts will be embraced and worn with pride by all our staff, and I can’t wait to see the faces of our remote community members when they see the designs.”
The project itself reflects a powerful connection between the Flying Doctor and its Antakirinja/Yankunytjatjara/Kokatha artists, first forged 18 years ago.
“The RFDS has a special place in our family’s heart as I have been flown out with RFDS from Ceduna to Adelaide with two of my pregnancies in 1999 and 2002,” artist Kelly Taylor says.
“I went into emergency at the Ceduna Hospital when I was pregnant with T’keyah and was then flown to the Royal Adelaide Hospital. I really appreciate everything the Flying Doctor does for the community,” she says.
The artwork, titled Flight Journey Line, has a story line depicting the Flying Doctor’s ongoing presence in remote communities where crews provide emergency evacuations, primary health care, mental health care, oral health care and chronic disease management.
“They have a special team of health care specialists to help our most at-risk people and get them to the larger hospitals to receive the best care possible,” Ms Taylor says.
“The artwork shows a blue line tracing an aircraft’s journey past waterholes, remote communities and towns along with showing tracks and trails of the RFDS’s past, present and future.
“The footprints represent the RFDS specialist health care teams in different remote communities and towns, while blue dots represent the ocean and the earth colours represent the land.”